A Canadian woman suffering from severe allergies and chemical sensitivities was able to legally end her own life due to the country’s expansive medical aid in dying (MAiD) laws. According to CTV News, the 51-year-old woman known as Sophia chose to die simply because she could afford no better place to live.
Sources say that Sophia suffered from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), a chronic condition that left her particularly sensitive to cigarette smoke and chemical cleaners used in her apartment building, which was run by the Salvation Army of Canada. For more than two years, Sophia and a number of supporters, including her family, friends, doctors, and local and federal officials advocated for better living conditions for her but were unable to secure any affordable housing in the Toronto area, where she lived.
“My landlord does not believe anything is wrong with me, and refuses to do anything else to help me with regards (to) making this apartment safe for me to live. I have given up hope and have applied for — and now qualify for — MAiD,” she said.
In a video filmed eight days before her death, she spoke of her desperation, saying, “The government sees me as expendable trash, a complainer, useless and a pain in the a**.”
READ: Case report in US shows woman may undergo assisted suicide for anorexia
Sophia’s situation felt hopeless, despite the fact that several doctors tried to help her. “We physicians find it UNCONSCIONABLE that no other solution is proposed to this situation other than medical assistance in dying,” they wrote in a letter asking for help in securing better housing for Sophia.
“It was an easy fix,” said Dr. Riina Bray, a Toronto physician who treats those with environmental sensitivities. “She just needed to be helped to find a suitable place to live, where there wasn’t smoke wafting and through the vents.”
“If people have to go and kill themselves, that would be a very pathetic thing and it will be heard by the rest of the world because it’s not acceptable,” said Bray.
Rohini Peris, President of the Environmental Health Association of Québec, also decried the situation, saying, “This person begged for help for years, two years, wrote everywhere, called everywhere, asking for healthy housing.”
Many are pointing out the alarming fact that Sophia’s death was allowed under MAiD regulations, which were expanded in March 2021. Prior to the expansion, only people with a “reasonably foreseeable” death were allowed to apply for assisted suicide or euthanasia, but the loosening of the restrictions nixed that requirement and also allowed those with depression and mental illness to qualify. “This is a concerning case,” said Trudo Lemmens, a professor of health law at the University of Toronto. “I think it highlights the concerns some [of] us have had in expanding medically assisted death.”
In another alarming development, CTV News reports that others with chemical sensitivities have learned about Sophia’s death and are now reaching out to Peris to learn about it for themselves. “I’m terrified,” said Peris. “I don’t believe this is the answer. I think the answer is to get together and fight the government that they will do the right thing.”
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